Always severely divided in one way or another, the U.S. has become two nations --one of the very,very rich elite on the one end and the rest of us on the other. The rich have literally waged war upon the poor since the nation's founding. The so-called 'Robber Baron Era' was notable for preceding and causing the Great Depression.
Income and wealth disparities are even worse now! As a direct result of Reagan/Bush tax cuts benefiting only the upper classes just ONE PERCENT of the U.S. population owns more than 95 percent of everyone else combined. Poverty is higher among every minority group. A 'ruling elite' of just one percent is primarily White Anglo Saxon Protestant.
...two Americas...one privileged, the other burdened...one America that does the work, another that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks.--Sen. John EdwardsEdwards was absolutely correct and, if anything, understated the problem. It is not surprising that the ruling elites, the establishment, and the fossilized leadership of the GOP would respond with yet another label: class warfare! If 'class warfare' it be, then 'bring it on'!
The current numbers should be compared with figures from 1998 when information provided to the IRS indicated that the richest 1 percent of U.S. households owned 38 percent of all U.S. wealth. Clearly --the Bush years were disastrous for the economy and must certainly be among the factors responsible for the current 'financial crisis'.
Up until the early 1970s, the U.S. actually had lower wealth inequality than Great Britain, and even than a country like Sweden. But things have really turned around over the last 25 or 30 years. In fact, a lot of countries have experienced lessening wealth inequality over time. The U.S. is atypical in that inequality has risen so sharply over the last 25 or 30 years. --An Interview with Edward Wolff, The Wealth Divide: The Growing Gap in the United States Between the Rich and the RestPlease note that the figures cited for wealth distribution are accurate as of the date of the 'interview' excerpted. More current figures are stated earlier in this article.
The transfer of wealth upward is a contraction of the supply of money among those who are most likely to spend or invest monies in ways that drive the economy. Supply-side economics has never stimulated the economy. In every instance, 'supply side' economic policies have precipitated recessions/depressions. Tax windfalls --clearly --were not invested in new jobs or expansion; rather, they were 'exported' to offshore accounts. Until the current crisis, the most notable examples were the Great Depression of '29 and the two year long depression triggered by Ronald Reagan's infamous tax cut for his rich backers in 1982. It is not surprising that Reagan's supporters would opine: 'He made us feel good about ourselves'. Well, if not 'good', then 'richer'!
Appalling poverty and the declining value of currency defined ancient Rome. When the Praetorian Guard auctioned off the empire to Didius Julianus, a nobleman, the sale was transacted in greek Drachmas --not worthless Roman sesterces. The U.S. dollar, today, is propped up by China so that U.S. citizens can buy Chinese stuff at Wal-Mart. That's because the US is at the very bottom of the CIA's World Fact Book with the world's largest NEGATIVE current account balance, formerly called the balance of trade deficit.
The U.S. is already a Vassal State of China and the impending fall of 'America' will simply 'formalize' a collapse that seems already concluded. When only the ruling elite have a place to live, the more overt symptoms will become increasingly apparent.